Who Wants to be a Millionaire Grows Through Competition, Limited Play

Who Wants to be a Millionaire is an adaptation of the TV game show of the same name produced by ABC Television Network. The game launched in mid-March, but was taken down for stability issues and re-launched March 29. In April, the game added the ability to advance to Round 2 and not long after, the game broke into our weekly top gainers lists and still remains on it at time of writing.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire on Facebook is a mostly-faithful adaptation of the TV game show. Gameplay is broken into “shows” at a rate of one playable show per day. Shows are played out in two rounds. In Round 1, there are ten players and ten questions, with each question being worth a certain amount of prize money ranging from $100 to $25,000. At the beginning of the round, the prize amounts and the question categories are shown, but both are then randomized as the round starts, so the difficulty of the question is not tied to its value. Players receive two “Life lines,” which are other friends that play the game. Using a “Life line” allows players to skip questions while gaining the prize money and bonuses are given to the fastest answer.

The top three scorers in Round 1 advance to Round 2. In Round 2, players answer four questions with prize amounts increasing from $100,000, to $250,000, to $500,000 and finally to the grand prize of $1,000,000. Players can choose to “walk away” with their winnings by not answering a question. They can also skip a question by “Asking the Audience,” which posts a question on their wall, allowing a friend playing the game to earn a little prize money if they answer the question correctly. An incorrect answer drops the player’s prize money to $25,000 and ends the show.

Where the Facebook game differs from the TV show is in wrong answers. On the show, a wrong answer is an instant loss. The Facebook game instead uses players that give the wrong answer to a question as multipliers for the prize value of the question, which is then applied to all players that answered correctly. This augments the sense of competition between players in a way that sets the Facebook game apart both from its TV show origin and from other TV game show adaptations on Facebook.

The overall appeal of the game seems to be in competition. While inviting friends to the game has benefits, like increasing the chances of gaining additional playable shows and extra prize money, the real thrill comes from beating complete strangers in answering trivia questions. Because players are matched randomly and can only play one show per day, the chance of encountering the same players again and again is very low, making competition feel fresh each day. By limiting gameplay to a single show per day, Who Wants to be a Millionaire also succeeds in luring competitive players back on a daily basis for a chance to hit the million dollar mark.

As an aside, we experienced a severe gameplay upset when internet latency forced our show to freeze. As that was our one playable show for the day, there was no point to reloading the game as we’d lost all our scores within the incomplete show and had to wait for the next day to play again. The single-show limit is actually the key to the game’s monetization. Players can spend Facebook Credits only on additional shows in contrast to other TV game show Facebook games that sell power-ups or hints that directly affect gameplay. Who Wants to be a Millionaire also features a TrialPay offer wall to earn Facebook Credits.

Players can continue to track Who Wants to be a Millionaire on AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.